Romain Rouillard 6:00 p.m., February 06, 2023

During the night of Sunday to Monday, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and part of Syria.

The provisional toll reports nearly 2,000 victims.

If this earthquake impressed by its intensity, this part of the globe is regularly affected by seismic tremors.

Southeast Turkey and part of neighboring Syria woke up bruised on Monday morning.

Shaken by a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale which affected the two countries overnight from Sunday to Monday and whose tremors were felt as far as Greenland.

It was followed a few hours later by another earthquake, slightly weaker (magnitude 7.5), which added a little more magnitude to the disaster in the Gaziantep region.

A disaster that claimed the lives of 2,300 people, according to a still largely provisional assessment and which occurs in a geographical area where the Earth is particularly prone to upheavals. 

This earthquake comes on top of the one that occurred in 2020 and which had a strong impact on the city of Izmir, located in western Turkey.

And in 1999, a similar disaster shook the northwest of the country, killing 17,000 people, including a thousand in the capital Istanbul.

“Turkey is located in a plate boundary zone composed of large faults,” explains Pascal Bernard of the Paris Globe Institute. 

“The risk of stunts cannot be excluded”

Concretely, Turkey is essentially based on the Anatolian plate, wedged between the African and Arabian plates to the south and the Eurasian plate to the north.

"The Anatolian plate is notably bordered by a fault to the east. This broke and therefore caused the earthquake in question", continues Pascal Bernard.

A rupture caused by a sliding movement of the Arabian plate relative to the Anatolian plate at the level of this fault which delimits the two plates. 



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And specialists cannot help thinking that the phenomenon will inevitably repeat itself in the future.

"Each time a fault breaks, the risk of waterfalls cannot be ruled out because it jostles neighboring faults", points out Pascal Bernard.

And in particular the North Anatolian fault located, as its name suggests, in northern Turkey.

Too much seismic activity at this fault would put Istanbul and its 15.8 million inhabitants in great danger.

Many experts have been pointing for several years to the risk of a mega-earthquake that could hit the Turkish capital in the coming decades. 

Effective means to prevent the risk? 

"As we know these faults very well, we know the risk and we can predict the movement of the ground in the event of an earthquake", reassures Pascal Bernard, however.

If science can therefore prove to be invaluable in preventing such a natural disaster as best as possible, another condition - and not the least important - must be respected in order to limit human losses.

"The buildings must meet anti-seismic standards, which was not the case for certain buildings in the area that was affected".

More than 2,800 buildings collapsed on Monday, according to the Turkish government, while the new standards make it possible to avoid such an outcome.

The human toll should therefore continue to increase in the coming hours as the international community has mobilized to come to the aid of those affected.